Inaugural Four Star Tour 2011

Pre-Ride Instructions and Banter

4-Star-Ride-Planning-Guide (PDF)

Planning The Route

The Guide above was an attempt to get down onto paper portions of the wording regarding which of the two routes we hoped to ride and locating ahead of time places to grab food before the earliest of the two rides began.

As it turned out we ended up doing the 35-mile route and that proved to be the better choice. So instead of heading in at 5 AM we were able to delay that until 6 AM and even arrive at Starbucks in time to grab a couple of iced Americanos with soy milk.

Getting Underway

By the time we reached the Loop area and had parked ($6 for the day) it was nearing 7 AM and we headed over to the courtyard where they have held this ride for the past two years or more. We made a quick potty stop and then headed over to the departure line where everyone sits until the requisite number of riders has arrived before being allowed to depart en masse. This scenario occurs for each of the main routes so that riders are more or less “bunched up” for safety reasons.

In lieu of a live band to entertain you while waiting to depart you get the cycling equivalent of instructions and blather from a wannabe radio personality. It was not too bad but folks were complaining that it was high time that the dogs were let out and so finally we were underway.

The ride is essentially divided into an above starting point section of nearly 14 miles and then the remainder are ridden below that starting point. The day could not have been more beautiful and we set out with nice sunshine and cool breezes.

The streets are in fair to poor condition what with all of the truck and auto traffic that navigates their surfaces on a daily basis. And with budget cutbacks it was evident that some of the urban infrastructure is in sad need of repair. But still the ride was a delight and the route segments were very well done on the 35 mile route.

Rest Stops

Every few miles on a ride like this a rest stop is situated to allow the riders to stop and grab water to refill their water bottles or are stocked with porta-potties. There are also full service rest stops that have real food, bananas, cookies, and other goodies.

We stopped at each one and partook each time but the first. It was a water only stop and we had enough water but it was nice to get a few images of the folks at the stops.

At the second rest stop Karin Evans and Bobby Mitchell of the Oak Park Bicycle Club were there to say hello. I got images of just about everyone that I knew and some that I know were total strangers. It helps to get a sense of the ambience of the ride itself.

The last stop was a really great one! I ran into a fellow I had met at the La Rabida Children’s Hospital Parking Lot a week or so ago. He was there with his friends and came over to chat. On the way there we ran into Kathy Schubert who was manning the split that took place in Bridgeport for the 65-milers.

And I should add that there was a lovely couple there with the family dog, who by the way was a real “ham”. She had on a pair of doggie goggles (doggles) and had a trailer built just for pooches! She was a hoot!

Apres Ride

After the ride we packed up the bikes and waited for the traffic in the parking garage to subside before trying to make it to an exit. The we drove the lower portion of the 65-mile route to see just what those riders saw.

It was great until we reached Doty Road near the Pullman Neighborhood. That is a road that we took last Labor Day on a ride out of Pullman. Very nasty pavement and simply inadequate as a route choice. But perhaps others did not mind it as much as I did back then and would have today. It was enough to dispel any doubt that the 35-mile route was the right choice.

I commend the Active Transportation Alliance on updating this ride and helping to bring down the pricing a bit for those who bought tickets both to it and the earlier Bike The Drive. Great ideas!

Distance: 35.1 miles
Time: 3h 34m 26s